The Community Justice Center took one more step toward reality as it received unanimous approval from the Tompkins County Budget, Capital and Personnel Committee on May 10. The total funding proposed for the Community Justice Center is $268,811, with the city and county splitting it between them, aside from an additional $19,950 paid by the county for project management software that would be used by other county departments as well.
The total funding of $268,811 breaks down into the following:
Project manager (director of the CJC)
Data analyst (program analyst)
Other operating expenses: $15,000
Project management software: $19,950
The Community Justice Center will be based loosely on the county’s Emergency Operations Center model. The project manager will be the director of the center, while the data analyst will focus on data and collection. Together they would work with the Ithaca Police Department, Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, Common Council and County Legislature to establish the framework for implementation of the 17 approved recommendations shared by the city and county, as well as identify and facilitate the next steps for community engagement. The two city-only recommendations will be the focus of a city task force.
Legislator Rich John, who heads up the Public Safety Committee (which approved the funds in April), said that at the May 20 public safety meeting there will be more defined information about the roles, including specific job descriptions and “everything else we need to know.”
Legislator Mike Lane said he’s “not hearing a lot of great things” about the Community Justice Center in his district (district 14, eastern portion of town of Dryden), and said he views it more of a help to the city than the county.
“How are these funds going to be administered? Are they pooled together in one fund? Who decides how they’re spent?” Lane asked.
John said those details would be included in the update on May 20, but that the county will likely be in charge of the Community Justice Center, as the two employees will be county employees in a county office.
“I’d push back in that the city is looking at ‘we pay city taxes and county taxes so we pay more than half,’” John said. “I don’t even want to get near that argument. A 50-50 share is reasonable.”
Legislator Deborah Dawson added that the funds up for approval are just for salaries and the expenses of the office, not for funds stemming from implementation.
“Any expenditure like that would come before the Legislature and Common Council,” she said.
County Administrator Jason Molino also confirmed that there was no definite location chosen for the Community Justice Center yet, but that the Mental Health Building is one location being considered. He also clarified that the $144,380 is one year’s worth of funding, but that the idea is the Community Justice Center is a two-year initiative, so the Legislature and committees can expect another request the following year.